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Stronger Focus Needed on Targeted HIV Prevention and Treatment Investments
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today a troubling rise in new HIV infections among young gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM). New HIV cases rose by nearly 50% among young African-American gay men and MSM, the sharpest increase of any group.
We face a snowballing health crisis among young, gay African-American men, said David Ernesto Munar, president/CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). Immediate measures are needed to prevent an even greater health emergency.
According to CDC, young gay men and MSM ages 13-29 accounted for 44% of new HIV cases among gay men and MSM in 2009. An estimated 2,100 young African-American gay men and MSM contracted HIV between 2006 and 2009, a 48% increase. Data from the Chicago Department of Public Health indicates that reported HIV cases among young gay African-American men 13-29 rose 62% from 2005-2008, mirroring the national trend.
AFC is heightening its response to HIV among young gay men and MSM to address the high rates of new infections. The agency kicked off 2011 with broad community education on the intersection of anti-gay bullying, homophobia, and HIV. Renowned advocate for gay youth Dan Savage headlined the Spring Luncheon, and through an array of new programs, AFC is working to expand testing and linkage to care for gay men of color, including young gay men.
As AFC develops our 2012-2014 Strategic Plan, Munar continued, We will work with area youth, providers and community and government leaders to identify strategies to reduce new HIV cases among youth and link young Chicagoans living with HIV to life-saving medical care.
AFCs Director of Federal Affairs Keith Green said, There are likely many reasons HIV cases are increasing among young African-American gay men and MSM. Primary, the forces of homophobia, stigma, and racism are creating a perfect storm for a marginalized group of youth of color. In addition, lack of access to health care, HIV testing and treatment is a significant driver of high HIV rates, among other factors.
Todays CDC announcement shows how much more work is needed to reverse the course of the epidemic among African Americans and Latinos, and gay men of all races, including gay youth and young African-American gay men, noted Green. We are deeply concerned that the debt ceiling agreement reached by Congress and President Obama could undermine the fight against HIV by forcing major cuts in HIV prevention and care funding. Todays alarming news could be even worse next year.
While incidence rates among gay men and other MSM are absolutely unacceptable, new infections were stable overall, indicating some level of success in our nation's efforts. Our prevention and care systems are working, but need to be much, stronger and much smarter, said Jim Pickett, AFCs director of prevention advocacy and gay men's health.
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, announced a year ago by President Obama, outlines how the United States can turn the tide against the HIV epidemic, Pickett continued. With that blueprint, continued investment and laser focus on the hardest hit populations and regions remains critical if we are to come close to achieving the Strategys goals. The Strategy rightly pays special attention to gay men, and so should the rest of us, as these latest numbers from CDC once again reflect a terrible burden on this group.
The Strategy aims to reduce new HIV cases by 25% by 2015, increase the number of people with HIV who are in medical care, and reduce health disparities.
Categorized under Prevention.